Poet/Gonzo Pirate/Forgotten Boy!!!
Christine F. Interviews Hollywood glam sensation, Dimitri Monroe
of American Heartbreak, Black Halos, Flesh For Lulu, and Gunfire Dance, would
likely love the lyrical songwriting of Dimitri Monroe, sort of an angry cross
between Adam Ant & Stiv Bator.
Much like Cleveland's patron saint of forgotten forerunners, Peter Laughner, many of Monroe's former bandmates and collaborators have gone on to fame and fortune, while he still labors in obscurity. His various groups, songs, fanzines, and fan-writing in his seminal punk 'zines, 'Burntout Recluse', 'Ready To Snap!', and 'Anorexic Teenage Sexgods', may have helped influence a generation of underground glamsters, but his own discography is sadly limited to one 7", a few compilation appearances, and twenty years of widely circulated, but never released, demo-tapes. Many years of harrowing addictions, including several bouts of actual homelessness, have hardly helped his cause. His music and social commentary have been praised by fellow artists as diverse as, Beat Angel Brian Smith; Deadboy Cheetah Chrome; performance-artist Phoebe Legere; Wayne Kramer from the MC5; and the late, great, Nikki Sudden.
He is perhaps best known for his columns, and music criticism for magazines like Hit-List and the Detroit Metro Times. He also hosted the cult favorite cable access show, "Welcome To Weird City" in Boston in the early nineties.
Dimitri has been described as 'a shitfaced Woody Guthrie' and 'the male Texacala Jones'. His song writing is frequently compared to that of Stiv Bators, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Westerberg, and even the sing-along, barroom-antheming of vintage Rod Stewart. Nikki Corvette wanted to take his last band the Saviors, on tour with her. Bebe Buell has accused him of being the reincarnation of Oscar Wilde, and everyone from John Easdale (Dramarama) to Cheetah Chrome have offered to produce him. So why have you never heard of him? I decided to ask. (Christine F.)
CF: Shane MacGowan... Tyla... Francois... Dimitri Monroe. Is it true you spent the last year in rehab?
DM: I no longer discuss my personal life.
CF: Well, I guess that shits up my next question about how many children you have with multiple mothers.
DM: My family life is nobody's business.
CF: Ok, well, now that Hanoi Rocks, The N.Y. Dolls, the Stooges, and Van Halen have all re-united, is there any chance of you re-uniting any of your old bands in the near future? Can we expect to see any shows or new releases from Murder Stars, Naked Flames, Eleganza, the Saviors or Original Suffering Bastards in 2008?
DM: The bands that ought
to reunite are Gen X, the Ultras, Hello Disaster, and Soho Roses! As far as
my old bands went, Murder Stars was really just our trite, miniature London
S.S., in that so many of the Murder Stars went on to bigger and better things-everybody
remembers the name, but that group never really got beyond the rehearsal room
and some boombox cassettes before splintering off into Pale Imitations and Bang
Bang Sattelite, who splintered off into Ill-starred and Dimestore Haloes and
Eleganza, before ever achieving 'real band' status, really. Jimmy, the original
Murder Stars drummer, was in Dee Dee Ramone's Chinese Dragons in Detroit, before
becoming a cop! Dave & Jake later became Dimestore Haloes. Little Dave went
to Med school and became a doctor, Rattlesnake Jake went into politics. Max
& Frank O'Donnal wrote a lot of really wonderful songs no one's really ever
heard-I kept hoping their idol, Johnathan Daniel, would open some door for 'em,
but it wasn't to be. Tony Meter, our lead guitarist in the original Imitations,
moved to some Navajo reservation, and I lost touch with him years ago.
Last I heard, Boogie Jack the Bad Joker, and Nasty Bastard, from the Original Suffering Bastards, still perform together, sometimes. Eleganza won't be reforming because the guitarist, Kentucky Mike's dead, the bassplayer's a hobo/horror movie screenwriter, and the drummer joined Lillian Axe. I'd love to work with Zack from the Saviors again-I loved his drumming. I think he's in a band called the Peacekillers, with the Barbed Wire Dolls singer. Me & Brian Morgan have about three albums worth of really good originals that I'd love to get recorded-maybe with his Disruptors cohort, Jose Valdez, on second guitar. Other people I'd like to work with again include, Joe Hutchinson, Mark 'the Riddler' from the Lovemasters, and Dark Carnival, and while I'm dreamin', Rocco Barker, Jimmy James, Kris Dollimore, Clem Burke, Bam and Share, Jeff Drake, Billy Burke, and Dave Parsons from Sham 69!!
CF: Who are some of your favorite bands in recent years?
DM: Naturally, I love David Johansen, and Patti Smith...Chick Graning, the Veins, Chamber Strings, Teenage Frames, the last two Zodiac Mindwarp records, I loved that song 'Leave L.A. Alone' by the Favors from Ohio, the Substitutes, Mad Juana... I like alot of Finnish bands like New Scarecrows, Stereo Junks, and Silver. A lot of Australian bands you can read about online at the I-94 Bar website, Spooky Records artists like Tex, Don, & Charlie, and Spencer P. Jones. Everything on Full Breach Records out of Chicago, or Acetate Records from L.A. The Headhunters from England. Fat Nancy. Motorcycle Boy. Marc Almond and Neil X doing that soulful Thunders cover. Ginger and Neil X doing that Sputnik homage. Throbbing Purple. Morrisey. My favorite rock writer likened Bubblegum Screw to summa my old bands, so I gotta hear them, now. I'm sad to hear about the death of Paul Raven. 'I have to push/I have to struggle!'
CF: So many different groups cover your songs, why haven't you released more material?
DM: Poverty. I'm a dishwasher. I live in grinding poverty, it used to be geography, but now it's really just down to poverty. A lot of my former bandmates who tour want me to pay them, or at least, foot all the studio bills, and I'm not the Strokes, I'm broke. The quality of rock 'n' roll continues to dwindle, while even great players chase carrots and Myspace chicks and money and lost youth. Emma Goldman said, 'what is generally regarded as success-acquisition of wealth, the capture of power, of social prestige-I consider those things the most dismal failures.' I don't know too many middle-aged revolutionaries, you know what I mean? It's all about money, and convenience and popularity. Real rock 'n' roll ain't like Fox Programming. The economy's so bad for the majority, that there's just zero surplus, everybody's tight, because there doesn't seem like there's enough to go around. You're on your own, Jack! We need to stand united.
CF: Does Rapid Pulse Records have plans to release more Saviors 45's?
DM: You should ask them to, if you're so inclined. Everytime some label seems serious about signing me, or releasing some songs, they go bankrupt---I-94, Vicious Kitten, etc. There's been talk with a variety of labels, but they all want a touring band to help spur sales, and I'm chained to a dish-tank in the basement of the tumour factory. It ain't ALL glamour, bein' the Last Of The Last.
CF: Last we spoke, you were talking about maybe relocating to England to join some band over there. Whatever became of that?
DM: A lot of us are really suffering because of what's happening with the erosion of freedom, the rich get richer economy, the secret police, and American clampdown on civil rights. Seven dollars an hour is not a living wage. It is hard for the working poor to even keep the lights on, let alone afford recording, or printing costs, so we want to flee to where there's hope of peace and freedom, democracy, and a living wage, but I keep hearing that Slade The Leveller, from New Model Army song, '51st State Of America', in the back of my head. It's still something I'd consider. Look how it worked out for Chrissie Hynde.
CF: What's your affiliation with PALE IMITATIONS?
DM: My old drinking buddy, Ron From Boston, still performs a lot of songs we wrote in 1988-2004, when the Imitations were, variously, Me, him, Little Dave, Nasty Bastard, Tony Meter, and the O'Connors. Ron still plays summa those songs we made famous in the Flash-Metal daze. 'Mister Unhealth', and some Murder Stars, and Eleganza songs, too. Andy Shernoff produces them. I haven't been in the band for ten years, but they call me their 'Metal Guru'.
CF: You've written for so many music publications. What music magazines do you rely on?
DM: http://www.rraf.net used to read a website called, 'She Didn't Like Rock 'n' Roll' religiously, and Rockholy.com, but I think they're defunct now. I never really get a chance to get online much anymore. I like Veglam.com, Buzzflash.com, Bubblegum Slut from England. Third Generation Nation, and The Big Takeover. I hear good things about Trashpit and Sonic Ruin print-zines. There's so many great writers who can't get paid in this fucked up war economy. You can't write for newsstand music mags unless you're willing to pretend you like emo and nu metal. Ranters I admire-Mister McIntyre, Nina Antonia, Nick Kent, Josh Rutledge, Ringo Kid, Subculture Hero, Stu Gibson,Tony Parsons & Julie Burchill's book, 'The Boy Looked At Johnny', and all the usual suspects over at Mojo and Classic Rock, once a year, maybe, when I can afford to buy one of 'em.
CF: Do you ever check out the fansites that feature you online?
DM: I'm too broke to have the internet. One of those Myspace things is ran by a couple of nice girls I used to know in L.A., and another's run by an old bassplayer I lost touch with-God Bless 'em! I don't have much to do with any of that, but I am humbled, and grateful to everyone who's campaigning to help me get some albums released. Lobby your favorite labels. I'm desperately seeking a new band, a real job, writing positions, and a record label. Please, please, please, help me make L.P.'s!
CF: Are there any other modern bands you believe in right now?
DM: Billy Bragg, John Easdale, Manic Street Preachers, Paul K. & The Weathermen, Bootsey X & The Lovemasters, Magic Christian, Inger Lorre, Nagg, Chesterfield Kings, Strip Club Devils, Tyla, Bam & Share, TSAR, Red Invasion, Rank Outsiders/Lazy Cowgirls, Steve Earle, Jarvis Cocker, the Gunfire Dance retrospective on EvilBoy Records, Hangmen, Paul Black & Jo Dog's Sonic Boom, Ian Hunter, Brijitte West, Black Moses, Starhags, Billy Idol. I mostly listen to old stuff like Generation X and the Clash, the Four Horsemen, Imperial Drag, and 'Oriental Beat'! I'm excited the Only Ones reunited... Dave Kusworth... Carbon/Sillicon, and I can't wait to hear that new Brian James Gang record.
CF: What are your plans for the New Year?
DM: To record and release all these songs I've got piling up. To continue writing, maybe make some short films, find a way to make a decent living, doing what I'm good at. I'd like to have my own radio show somewhere-informed by Doctor Johnny Fever, Little Steven, Bill Hicks, and Amy Goodman, from Democracy Now. I just wanna work for peace and freedom, provide for my loved ones, make art, and stay true to my conscience.
CF: Where can people find your music?
http://www.paleimitations.com and sometimes, E-BAY